Every individual within this world has a passion within life.Since the age of ten, mine has been towards assisting and working with people of diverse, yet equally important cultures.This past summer, I traveled to Ukraine for ten days on a mission trip with various members from my church.We worked with the local people in Desna, a small military base within Ukraine, assisting at the local church as well as working at a week-long camp for college level students.By traveling half way across the globe to a country that was once ruled by Communism, I realized that I was receiving a once in a lifetime opportunity to impact the lives of many individuals while experience life in an entirely different culture.What I did not know was how greatly my life would change as a result.
While Christ was the focal point of this overseas adventure, spending quality time with the Ukrainian students was just as vital.For a majority of the students we met, this was their only opportunity, perhaps within their entire lives, to spend a week with students from America.Not only did our presence allow them to practice their English-speaking skills, but it also allowed them to learn things about our culture and way of living, just as we learned about theirs.While we played a variety of sports, one of their favorites to learn was American football.After breaking into two teams, Americans verses Ukrainians, it was rather surprising how quickly they picked up on the game.This is just one of many examples throughout the week that really shows how well we all bonded with each other.Many of the Ukrainian students are keeping in contact with us, which is very encouraging on our part to see that our trip to Ukraine really helped to change many of the students’ lives.
Not only did the people of Ukraine benefit from this life-changing trip, but every member of our team did as well.As Americans entering a former Soviet Union controlled nation, we expected the acceptance level to be fairly low.However, from the moment we were picked up at the airport to the day we got back onto the plane, we experienced more hospitality than I have ever felt within the United States.While I worked to influence lives in a positive way, the people of Ukraine were unintentionally accomplishing the same task.
While we did experience a significant amount of care and devotion, I must say that their way of life truly was an eye-opener.From having to squat to use the restroom, to eating the same meal for breakfast that I had the night before for dinner, I became truly thankful for the way of life I experience within America.Yet, at the same time, I also realized how spoiled the nation of America truly is.When we are hungry, all we do is walk to the pantry and there before us lies a surplus of food.We can take a warm bath whenever desired, and often times could go months without needing to wear the same outfit twice.Yet, we still demand more.In countries like Ukraine, the people are content with what they have, and do not expect anything greater.While I traveled to Ukraine with the sole purpose of changing their lives, it was I whose life was changed the greatest.While I know that I had a significant impact on the lives of the Ukrainians, my life is forever changed for the better, due to the life lessons I learned from them.
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